Ask Yourself: Can 2014 Be Different?

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I challenge you to ask yourself: can 2014 be different from 2013?

Or, from 2012? Or, 2011?

It might seem like a naysayer’s negativity. A doomsayer’s glum.

But, it’s not. It’s an honest, heartfelt question.

I want to believe that 2014 is going to be different from all other years. I want to believe it’s going to be positive. A truly Happy New Year.

I want to wish you a Happy New Year.

But, the question I’m really asking is: what IS happy?

It is not a philosophical question. It is a plain and simple question, grounded in reality.

And because nobody likes long blogs and complicated word games anymore, I’m going to be brief. The fact that so many of you read my blog — from all corners of the world now — is a blessing for me as such.

I’ve been asking this question to myself, more often than ever before.

What IS happy?

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Is happiness individual, or is it collective? Can the society survive and prosper if only a small number of people are doing well, and the vast majority is not?

Is human civilization relevant without the society?

If I am happy myself, with my money, my fame, my new car, my new booming stocks, my spic ‘n span house with a large living room and kitchen like the ones you see on TV commercials, would that be enough reason to be happy?

Is happiness possible if I am going to a prestigious school to be a doctor or lawyer or Wall Street executive or high-tech professional, or say, a famous piano player or cricket player or singer or movie star, and yet at the same time, my cousin who had once taught me how to ride the bicycle has now dropped out of college because his father couldn’t afford the tuition, only because the owners downsized the factory he worked in, and further, his mother is a cancer patient and her treatment has made the family broke, resulting my cousin take up a job as a grocery store clerk and part-time laundry operator?

Is happiness possible if the neighborhood I live in is well guarded and safe and secure and clean and quiet and green, yet at the same time, three blocks away, one young woman who is my niece’s age was molested in broad daylight two days ago, and the girl’s parents were harassed by the local police when they went to report the incident? And that was one of the many such incidents in recent months?

Is happiness possible if the country I live in is one of the richest with prosperous businesses and bell-ringing churches, yet at the same time, my country is responsible for creating and perpetuating violent overthrow of democratic governments and cruel, devastating wars in other parts of the globe, killing and hurting and destroying millions of men, women and children?

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You know me, and you know what I’m talking about.

And it’s not happy talk especially at this time of the year.

So, I am going to stop.

But, truly, honest to God, if 2014 does not show any promise to be different from 2013, or all these other years, when it comes to the above points I’ve just made, then, honest to God, I don’t see any reason to celebrate the new year as a happy and prosperous one.

Because for me, happiness is not possible, unless it is happiness for all.

I want peace, society and equality in 2014.

Peace is like, no violence and war.

Society is like, where people get to know and care for the others.

Equality is like, where prosperity is not a me-only concept.

If you can promise the world is going to go in that positive direction, then I shall sing the next temple or church choir, along with you.

And I promise to talk heart to heart, exactly this way, in 2014 too.

It won’t be different that way either.

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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4 thoughts on “Ask Yourself: Can 2014 Be Different?

  1. Dear Partha, I wish that your kind of happiness will happen, but unfortunately I don’t think it will. For me, happiness is having my husband healthy again. Finding aides that I like to help me. You see I grab for happiness where I can find it, because if I didn’t, I would find no reason to keep on living!

  2. Partha, almost a similar thought have been echoing in my mind for long. You have put it together so nicely. I have been residing in Delhi since 1981 till 2010 and the world knows about its scenario. But last three and half years, I am living in Assam, that too in a remote area- I have seen a different world and it looks life, I have never known my country at all.

    1. Thank you SO much for writing these words, Partha. I’ve been to Assam once in my life, and I also felt I never knew India before. I’ve lived and taught at a remote Sundarbans area college for four years, and that was a life-changing experience too. If possible, share it with your friends and colleagues. Again, thank you.

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